City by Clifford D. Simak

Countless millennia have passed since humankind abandoned the city – leaving first for the countryside and then for the stars. Left behind are their most loyal companions, dogs who have been granted the power of speech. Given this special gift centuries earlier, the dogs have become the keepers of human history; raising their pups on stories of what once was and waiting patiently for the day of the humans’ return.

Assisted by an ageless service robot by the name of Jenkins, the dogs live a life of peace and harmony with all of the animals around them. Yet while everything seems calm on the surface, danger is never far behind.

City by Clifford D. Simak is a series of stories that tell about man’s final years on Earth. Interspersed between each story is a kind of interlude or prelude, that gives small details about the next story and what current ‘scholars’ believe of it. The ‘scholars’ are of course the dogs that man had left behind and as so many years have passed, the knowledge of man has passed in to myth.

The stories themselves have a delightedly 50’s feel with mention of toggles, switches, and atomic power. This makes sense as the stories were originally written in the late 40’s to mid 50’s; the era of the space race and the beginning of the atomic age. There is also a nostalgic feel to several of the stories as both man and dog reminisce of an earlier age.

Readers who are fans of older sci-fi are bound to enjoy City. Written and published at a time when man had yet to even make it to the moon, the tales are a reminder that man has always been looking towards the stars.

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